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Full text of "Flora Indica Vol-I"

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INTRODUCTORY  ESSAY.                               123
narrowing of the land and the lower elevation of the moun-
tains. The humidity, however, continues excessive. At Cape
Comorin the amount of rain is only 30 inches. To the north-
ward, in Canara, the climate is drier, especially in winter, and
the hills are less elevated. During the north-east monsoon,
from January to April, which includes the hottest season of
the year throughout the province, irregular winds and showers
prevail everywhere, except opposite Coimbator, where, from
the great depression in the mountains, dry winds are at that
season not unfrequent.
IVom the humid character of the Malabar climate, its lux-
uriant vegetation might be inferred. Hamilton tells us that
it resembles Bengal in verdure, but has loftier trees and more?
Palms: the shores are skirted with Cocoa-nuts, and the vil-
lages surrounded with groves of Betel-nut Palms and Talipots,
Vateria Indica, a noble Dipterocarpous tree, is abundantly
planted in many parts; Cassia, Pepper, and Cardamoms flou-
rish wild in the jungles, and form staple products for export.
The fact that the Pepper is cultivated without the screens
used in other parts of India, to preserve a humid atmosphere
about it, is the best proof of the dampness and equability of
the climate. The low valleys are richly dothed with rice-
fields, and the hill-sides with millets and other dry crops,
whilst the gorges and slopes of the loftier mountains are co-
vered with a dense and luxuriant forest.
The mass of the Flora is Malayan, and identical with that
of Ceylon, and many of the species are further common to the
Khasia and the base of the Himalaya. Teak is found abun-
dantly in the forests, but the Sandal-wood occurs only on the
east and dry flanks of the chain. Oaks and Conifera are
wholly unknown in Malabar, but the common Bengal Willow
(Salix tetrasperma) grows on the hills. Gnetum and Cycas
both occur, the former abundantly.
The mountain-chain which forms the eastern boundary ef
Malabar, separating it from Mysore and the Caraatic, has,
except on the eastern slopes of the most lofty parts, a very